Welcome to my most absorbing obsession other than my children –
dolls. These saucer-eyed beauties have been the subject of my almost every thought for the last few months, and I know this is something that will last a lifetime for me.
With a new release at least once a month, it’s a seriously dangerous hobby involving not only undying love, but large amounts of restraint. Their pretty perfection doesn’t come cheap, nor are they easily attained here in Australia. The fabulous Melbourne-based
Robio is the only shop I know of that sells them here. Otherwise it’s off to eBay, the
store in Japan, or to one of the forums where you can pick up one that’s pre-loved.
So exactly what do they do? Well apart from being delightfully cute
to look at, with hair to die for and endless clothing options available (especially on Etsy), their eyes feature four colours. With a pull of the string on the back of their heads, their eyes will change from green to brown to pink to orange, depending on the stock eyechips she has come with which vary from doll to doll. Her gaze also changes
from left to right to front-facing – she can look non-chalant, shy,
bored and cheeky just with the pull of a string!
The original Blythes were released in 1972 by the now defunct toy
maker Kenner, but were only produced for one year after poor sales.
It has been said that little girls found her a bit creepy and
production ceased. In 1997 TV producer Gina Garan encountered a Blythe
owned by a friend who thought she resembled the doll. She started taking photos of Blythes during her travels around the world and released a book of photos ‘This is Blythe’ which captured the attention of the Japanese. In 2001 the first ‘Neo-Blythe’ was produced by CWC and manufactured by Takara, who are still producing the dolls today, each with their own name and stock outfit.
Read the full history here.
For adventurous owners, willing to change a doll worth a few hundred
dollars, there is a whole world of customising options – people are
changing make-up, re-rooting entire scalps of hair, changing eyechips
and carving lips to fantastic effect.
The Blythe world has
spawned lots of associated hobbies such as dolly dress-making and
photography – there are huge Flickr communities devoted to Blythe. People photograph her all around the world in all kinds
of places. Doll collectors remain enamoured of her and some models
command hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Imagine being the person who picked up a ’72 Kenner at a garage sale and now she’s worth thousands! That scenario is every Blythe-lover’s dream.
Buy one locally from
from $260 plus post, or ship one in from overseas. I hope you like my own beauties up there – Tabitha, who is a Miss Sally Rice, and Lucille, who is a Dainty Biscuit with the pink hair, and my friend’s raven-haired
Goldie called Enid – thanks for the pic Narelle. These would make a fab heirloom gift – they hold their value and modern kids just love them!
Here are some resources if you’re interested in researching Blythe dolls further: